Three Reasons to Consider Staycations

Ah vacation! The time-honored part of our work year when we get paid for not working.

Working at an international company, I have the privilege to observe how others countries take part in vacation. And I must say, their way is much better in my opinion than my own. I typically work way too long without having a break and then I hastily plan a trip, spend too much time in travel either by car or air (because let’s face it, unless you leave at zero-dark-thirty, with both road and air traffic, you’re not going anywhere fast these days) and then, by the time I get there and get settled, it’s time to come back. It’s crazy.

So, this year, I decided on a staycation. I took a planned trip that was intentionally short, but I also planned time to stay at home. I needed the rest more than I needed a chance of scenery. If you find yourself needing more rest than a change of scenery, here are three reasons things to consider:

1. Staycations are not for home projects

Yep. I said it. I know we want to maximize the most out of the time that we have. I’ve been guilty of it. But when I take on projects when I’m supposed to be resting, I don’t return to work rested. I return to work just as tired, if not more tired… Weekends are for projects. Staycations are not.

2. Staycations can save you money

And with this uncertain economic climate, I think we could all afford to save some dough. I still spend but it’s on things that promote rest – like massages or things that help me to relax. Of course, your money, your choice.

3. Staycations can help you realize what you have

Now, this may seem a strange thought. But, for sure, many of you can relate. I work so much that sometimes I don’t realize or have time to focus on the cool things that my house offers. Look around and enjoy the view. And this includes getting to know your neighbors.

I’m happy that I took a staycation this year. It helped me come back to some things that I had been missing…like writing on this blog!

Change is the new normal

So…I had the bright idea that in the midst of changes in nearly every corner of my life, that I also needed to change my blog. Yea…now I’m realizing that perhaps that wasn’t the best move for this season of life. But now I’m here and I’m determined to see this through with the same care and attention that I give to everything that I involve myself with. So, look forward to lots of changes as I adjust to this new platform. Change…it’s the new normal.

Wrapping 2012

The books are almost closed on 2012.

I can’t believe it.

Seems like the year just started and at the very least, seems like it should be mid-year. But no, it’s been a full year – almost. So much has happened. So many things that shape our lives have been carried out in 2012. Some good – some not so good.

I think about the ways in which several lives were lost. That’s the not so good.
I think about the ways in which several lives were changed by connecting with God. That’s the so good.
I think about the ways in which I allowed defeat to beat me. That’s the not so good.
I think about the ways in which I surrendered and allowed God to use me. That’s the so good.

2012, just like any other year, will be summed up in our perspective. How we choose to remember it. I choose to remember it all – the good and the not so good because they both shaped me this year. And for that, I’m certain that I’m stronger. Wiser. Better. And as I look to 2013, should the Lord allow me to see it, I’m excited. I don’t know what the year holds, but I do know Who holds it. And right now, that’s enough.

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So…that’s what that button does…

Hey! Long time. I know. But look, everything is getting a fresh look on the blog. I started this process quite by accident…hence the blog title. The redesign wasn’t in the plan for this week. I just hit the wrong button at the wrong time and now, well, we are in redesign mode. No worries. I’m not sweating it. I think I may like this new look. Give me a few days to schedule in a blog redesign and maybe you’ll like what you see! 

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A Review of Home by Anthony Evans Jr.

From time to time on this blog, I will write a review of some sort. I generally write book reviews. However, whenever music really grabs me, I write about it.

So, here I am, writing a review of “Home”, the latest CD from Anthony Evans. I’ve been listening to his music for years, – since his “Even More” days – so I confess up front that I am a fan and this review may be a bit skewed toward the fact that I really appreciate the way God uses him through song.

Anthony is a gifted singer. Not the kind of singer where you can tell that they’ve had some vocal training and therefore they want to show you all of their skill in one song. I confess that I don’t know if he’s been trained that way but my point is this – no matter what he sings, he makes it sound effortless. I believe that I would buy an album of him singing the phone book for no other reason than the fact that God has gifted him through song. He has given him an amazing voice and the whole world should hear it!

In fact, I am giving the “Home” CD as Christmas gifts – I purchased five for gifts and downloaded a copy for myself.

That being said, here are some praise points: In my humble opinion, “Home” is Anthony’s best CD yet. And that’s really a big praise from me considering that I was stuck on “The Bridge” CD for what seemed like a lifetime. It’s not always that he’s singing new or original music. It’s the way he sings the lyrics. Anthony adds an element of drama to the music that puts the listener into anticipatory mode. I listen with expectation that the next note or the next lyric is going to deliver me to some place that I wasn’t expecting.

If you look through his tweets and followers (he’s @anthonyevansjr), you’ll see that I’m not alone in this expectation. Many people tweet about what he’s singing being the very thing that they need in that moment of their lives. That’s ministry folks. His music does ministry.

I am particularly fond of a few songs on the “Home” CD. I L.O.V.E.  the “How He Loves” Interlude and song … talk about drama there! And even though there are other versions of “How He Loves”, it’s worth taking a listen to Anthony’s version. It changed me. I also love “Take Over” with Tamela Mann. It’s such sincere worship. Just like “My Desire” – the CD opens with this song and the lyrics are so powerful and praise-oriented. It’s the right song that sets the tone for the entire CD.

One of the most candid and vulnerable songs is “Fighting for Me.” This song takes me to a place of my own vulnerability – when I try to hold on to the ever elusive feeling of control – only to realize that God Himself is doing the fighting and all I really need to do is to rest in the comfort of that knowledge. God is and always has been in control. All I ever needed to do was to get out of His way – He’s fighting for me.

I’m not going to tell you about every song on the CD. That’s your homework. Go ahead and purchase it for yourself…and a few friends…and be prepared for this music to minister to you.

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My fingers have been touching keyboards. Keyboards at home and work. But not in an effort to write something inspirational for this blog. It has been a busy season in other areas of my life but God has brought me back here in this moment. I’m truly grateful. 
While I’ve been away, I have had several experiences where God continues to show His love and faithfulness toward me and those with whom I am privileged to call my brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn’t it amazing to meet up with someone who worships the God of the Bible? 
In this day and time, you can meet a crowd of people and they simply don’t believe – and aren’t afraid to tell you either! Just yesterday, I brought up Christ to someone and guess what – they told me they didn’t go to church. The implication from the conversation was they didn’t believe nor did they have a relationship with Christ. And when I asked why, they told me that they “just didn’t.” I invited them to know Him.  
You see, there are opportunities everywhere. And although I recognize that one single invitation may not be enough to bring that person into the ark of safety, it’s a start. And someone else will come along and do it again. God will see to it. 
He’s so very faithful to us.
Even now, as I prepare for the day, I have this one thought in my mind – faithful is my God. And since He doesn’t play favorites, know this today – He’s faithful to you too. 

See you soon!

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Baking with the Boss!

TLC has a fan in me – I love the show Cake Boss with Buddy Valastro. In fact, when Buddy was on tour in my city, I went to see him. What a great show! 

Lisa and the kids weren’t there – I guess they show up when they can and for those audiences, it’s a special treat. But I have to tell ya, Buddy is one funny guy! He held my attention the entire time. You should check him out to see when he’s coming to your city. I laughed and laughed!  

The show is really family friendly – I went with my sister – who is the greatest! I’m a fan…but don’t tell her! I want her head to still be able to fit in the door. I thank God for her. She’s warm and sweet – just like freshly baked cake!

It’s funny how baking can be so therapeutic! Raw ingredients come together, poured into molds and forced into a heated oven so that it rises into a delicious and yummy treat! 

And we’re like that too. 

We are raw ingredients ready for molding. God has to whip and stir us into a suitable batter, lacking nothing. And when He does, He pours us into the mold that He has created just for us. And then we walk through the fire of trails and tribulations on our way to maturity in Him. We just don’t wait up mature once we get in right standing with the Lord. Just like a flour, sugar and eggs don’t all of a sudden make themselves into a ready-to-eat moist cake. No, it’s a process. And we are privileged to be able to go through it.
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Things Get in the Way

Lately, my fingers have been so glued to the keyboard as a requirement, that I’ve not had much time to write for the joy of it. 
As I look around me, there is so much that still needs to be done. So many words left to write in my research paper. So many things left unsaid in my journal. So much housework…well, you get the idea. Yet, at this moment, I’m writing just for the joy of it. Free form. No assignment. Just writing. I am desperately trying to get back to what I love.
I have always loved writing – even from my youth. I had an open love affair with pens and stationary…with my name at the top. I used to write poems all the time. And when I joined church, I wrote a bunch more. I wrote about my love for Jesus and the state of men – my own state as I learned more about sin and God. The words for those poems would just flow. Effortlessly. And I enjoyed taking dictation from my spirit and looking up some minutes later to a completed piece.
Back then, some of my sweet friends would always ask – what poems have you written lately? And I would always have a reply. I even wrote and read some poems for special days at my church. Those days were nerve-racking because those “special occasion” poems were always an edict on some type of behavior. Oh the pressure! 
Yet I did it. And looking back now, and the years that have since passed, I understand now completely why those poems were given to me by the Holy Spirit. They were warnings against what could potentially cause a riff or split in the church body. But they were ignored and trouble stormed the camp…so to speak. 
I stopped writing for a period of time. And in doing so, I lost the thing that gave me the most joy. Things get in the way. And when they do, we always have a choice. Will we subject ourselves to losing the thing(s) we love most to take care of the things we love the least? Think about it for yourself. Is there something that you’ve always loved from your youth and as you’ve grown up, life has gotten in the way of your actively being involved with that thing? Do you still love it? If you do, find a way to get back to it – and don’t put it off. It’s not for tomorrow – it’s for you today. 

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Ugh…Stomach Pain

Last night, I had an issue….this is what I wrote in the middle of the night. I hope it blesses you.
I can’t remember when I’ve last had a stomach ache like this. Rousing me from my sleep. Keeping me up in the middle of the night. I can’t remember. And that a good thing. For it tells me that I’m getting to bed each night and getting solid rest. So one night – let’s hope it’s just one night – without the rest to which I’m accustomed should not cause much harm. Right?! 
And since I’m now wide awake – and keenly aware of pain – and the blessing of sleep, I find it fitting to offer up a prayer for those who face pain as a constant companion and who find sleep and a good night’s rest fleeting. 
Would you pray with me? 
Father God, I come to you now, wide awake and humbled. There are so many things that we, as your people take for granted. Health and wellness are two of those things. Thank you for reminding me of what it’s like to watch the midnight hours seep into the daylight hours. The hours intended for sleep quickly passing by. Thank you for reminding me of what’s it like to wish for sleep to come but to hurt so much that one knows that sleep will not come until the pain subsides. Thank you that I am able to feel the pain for it will help me to appreciate the pain-free days and nights to come. You are a blessing to me. Continually humbling me, Your servant, so that I can relate to others and carry your compassion within me. 
And with all of this praise and thanksgiving, for You are a merciful God, I come asking You for divine healing for those who are in pain. You created each of us, and You alone are able to provide exactly what each created being cries out for. You alone are able to mend what is broken and soothe what is inflamed. Therefore, I ask even now that as You search across the Earth, that You heal and deliver someone who is facing affliction in their body. Would you give someone a good night’s rest, free from pain. And would you allow them to know, even as they are waking up in the morning, feeling rested, that their rest was a result of Your power. Not a doctor’s medicine but Your power, alone. 

I’m feeling good! Guess I shouldn’t have had that smoothie so close to bedtime. 🙂 
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At Mount Bethel…

I was privileged to speak at Mt Bethel Baptist Church in Roxboro in August. What a time in the Lord we had! They are a beautiful group of worshippers. And their pastor is a wonderful servant of God. 

The Holy Spirit traveled with us – met us there – allowed us to be free in worship. And we served God together. We praised Him together. And everything was for God’s glory. 

My pastor, in his generosity, sent the choir, musicians and bus to accompany me. You see, it was just as much their engagement as mine for we were asked to come together. And, Pastor allowed it.  I do not think I’ll ever be able to fully explain, as a young minister, how very humbling that is. I still think about it and am humbled. For me, it’s one thing to go off to an engagement by yourself; it’s quite another thing to go off to preach with the church choir. I’m humbled by the numbers that drove the distance because somewhere in my mind, the enemy was telling me that only a few would show – most likely those that rode with me in my car. Not so. God sent all that were needed and then some and we had a great time in the Lord. It’s not about numbers – but I’m writing this out to show how the enemy will use even what should be a good event to try to raise doubt, fear and insecurities. 

But I’m getting wiser when it comes to dealing with my adversary in that arena. I’m getting to the point where now, I’m not so concerned about every aspect and detail. I’m trusting God more fully now knowing that if He has brought me to it, then surely, He’s going to see me through it. That’s the confidence I have with God now. And I wish for you the same! 

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